Harrogate Town v Morecambe FC: Shrimps clash is a play-off 'six-pointer', says Simon Weaver
Simon Weaver has admitted that Harrogate Town really need to beat Morecambe on Saturday if they are to keep their slim play-off hopes alive.
Last weekend’s defeat at Forest Green left the Sulphurites eight points shy of League Two’s top-seven with 11 games remaining this term.
And, with the Shrimps currently occupying the division’s final play-off berth, Weaver accepts that losing their upcoming encounter at the EnviroVent Stadium would probably leave his players with too big a gap to make up.
Asked if Saturday’s fixture is one that Town cannot afford to lose, he replied:“I’d agree with that. It is a big game.
“I wouldn’t say that it’s definitely end of story as far as our play-off chances are concerned if we are beaten on Saturday because it’s still very open at the top end of the table. Results were kind to us in mid-week but we need to bounce back from the Forest Green defeat with three points.
“There is a big difference between us narrowing that gap to Morecambe to five points compared to them stretching it to 11 if they win.
"In that respect, this fixture is a six-pointer, really.”
While the gap between Town and the play-off places stands at eight points, the distance between them and League Two's relegation zone is far, far greater,
And, with that 18-point cushion between Harrogate and 23rd-place Southend United in mind, Weaver expects his players to approach their remaining fixtures with a sense of freedom.
“I don’t think that too many would have been expecting us to be in a position at this stage of our first season in League Two where we are looking up the table, but we’ve earned that right,” he added.
“The pressure in any league is down at the bottom, so the lads should be able to go out and play with freedom at the weekend and really have a go.
“Morecambe are a strong outfit, they're having a really good season and will back themselves to finish in a play-off position. But, I’ve every confidence that if we are really on our game then we can cause any team in this division problems.
"We went to Forest Green last weekend and dominated possession against a side who could end up winning the title. We just needed a bit more quality in our play.
"Saturday is another really tough fixture, however no challenge is insurmountable in League Two if the lads are brave enough to get on the ball and play the way we know that they can."
Currently seventh in the table, Morecambe have won 16 of their 35 league fixtures this term, though their form has dropped off slightly in recent weeks.
They’ve come out on top in just two of their previous five matches and were beaten 3-1 at home by Newport County last time out.
Derek Adams' team edged December's meeting with Harrogate 1-0, but have emerged with maximum points from just one of their previous six away outings.